WE SHOULD HAVE MADE PLAY-OFFS BUT WE BLEW IT

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

LEEDS star Ross McCor­mack has spo­ken of his frus­tra­tion af­ter ad­mit­ting the Whites have un­der­achieved his sea­son.

Tipped to chal­lenge for pro­mo­tion un­der Neil Warnock, the York­shire gi­ants strug­gled for con­sis­tency, win­ning back-to­back league games just three times and rarely threat­en­ing the play-off places.

The loss of 19-goal top-scorer Lu­ciano Bec­chio to Nor­wich in Jan­uary also saw the goals dry up and Warnock de­parted last month with Leeds on the fringes of a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle.

That dan­ger has been averted by new gaffer Brian McDer­mott, but play­maker McCor­mack still re­gards the sea­son as a missed op­por­tu­nity.

“It’s been frus­trat­ing for me per­son­ally, but also for the club,” said the Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional. “We’re not where we want to be, where we feel we should be.

“We’ve got bet­ter play­ers than the league po­si­tion sug­gests but it was up to us to prove it and we didn’t.

“The fans and the play­ers will tell you how many points and games we’ve thrown away. But for all that, we went into the Birm­ing­ham game last week­end just six points off the play-offs. That tells you what a missed op­por­tu­nity it’s been.

“If we’d won the games we were on top in, things could be dif­fer­ent. At Palace we threw a lead away, Le­ices­ter we threw a lead away. Mid­dles­brough should never have beaten us. That’s seven points just off the top of my head and even that would have put us in the mix. That’s the frus­trat­ing thing.”

And with McDer­mott, a Cham­pi­onship win­ner with Read­ing last sea­son, ready to re­build, McCor­mack knows the cur­rent crop of play­ers could pay a heavy price for this sea­son’s fail­ures.

Daft

“We’re not daft,” he added. “We all know a new man­ager will bring new faces. And when you fin­ish where we have, it ob­vi­ously isn’t good enough.

“So for us, th­ese next few games are vi­tal to im­press the man­ager and try to keep a place in the squad for next sea­son.”

McCor­mack, though, re­jects ac­cu­sa­tions that the Leeds play­ers didn’t play for Warnock, who had al­ready an­nounced that he would leave if the Whites failed to win pro­mo­tion. In the event, he walked with six games left, al­low­ing McDer­mott to take charge.

“Ba­si­cally, we knew when Neil got the job that if he didn’t get pro­mo­tion this sea­son he was go­ing to go. He was al­ways say­ing: ‘Oh this is my last sea­son’ and talk­ing about re­tir­ing. There was no am­bi­gu­ity about it. So when we started fad­ing away from the top six, we all knew it was only a mat­ter of time. It was no sur­prise to us that he left be­fore the end.

“But that didn’t af­fect the side. We haven’t got a bad egg in the camp, so there was never a chance that the boys would throw it just be­cause they knew the man­ager was go­ing. The lads want to do well for them­selves and we ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing at a club the size of Leeds.”

For McCor­mack, though, there was one bright spot. The Scot joined Leeds from Cardiff in 2010 af­ter two years in South Wales and was de­lighted to see his old mates win the ti­tle.

“I had a great time there and I still keep in touch with a lot of peo­ple,” he said.“Mark Hud­son, Peter Whit­ting­ham, David Mar­shall and Kev McNaughton, who is still play­ing at 42! They de­serve it and I’m so pleased for them. If Leeds weren’t go­ing to get pro­moted this sea­son then my next choice, 100 per cent, would have been Cardiff.

“It’s a great city a great club. If they can stay up for the next cou­ple of years, I think the chair­man will take his spend­ing to an­other level and they could re­ally be a power. I’m not say­ing they’ll win it or any­thing like that, but the top 10 isn’t out of the ques­tion. I’m buzzing for them.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

HON­EST: Leeds star Ross McCor­mack says the squad know they un­der-achieved. Inset: New boss Brian McDer­mott

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